Third Week COVID-19 Update for Students

18 January 2021

Dear Carls,

On Friday, we wrapped up the second round of baseline COVID-19 testing for students who are living and learning on campus this winter. We have received results for this round of tests, and the results are again reassuring. Of the 1,311 tests administered to students Jan. 14 and 15, one was positive. This reflects a positivity rate of 0.1%.

When we factor in both the first and second rounds of tests, our overall baseline positivity rate for our on-campus and Northfield Option student population is 0.2%.

This second round of testing was intended to detect those who may have been exposed during travel to campus, those who may have received a false negative in the first round, and those who may have been exposed shortly after returning to campus. Students who arrived on campus after the designated move-in dates of Jan. 9 and 10 will receive their second test this week and are not permitted to attend in-person classes or dine indoors until they’ve received the result of that test. 

With the conclusion of baseline testing, we will begin weekly surveillance testing on Tuesdays through the remainder of the term. Each week, roughly 600 members of our on-campus community will be randomly selected, notified on Thursday and tested the following Tuesday. As during Fall Term, we will use this statistically based sampling plan to get a clear picture of where we are as a campus each week. We also will continue symptomatic testing and reporting of cases identified outside of this surveillance testing.

Those who have tested positive for COVID in the past 90 days are exempt from testing on campus due to the possibility that a PCR test can continue to detect viral fragments long after someone stops being contagious. However, because individuals can become reinfected, you are still required to abide by the covenant. This is particularly important as we do not yet know if the new variants will present a higher risk for reinfection.

Additionally for students, if you need to stay overnight off campus for any reason, you will need to complete the COVID-19 Overnight Visit Form prior to departure and stay in designated self-monitoring housing for 7-10 days upon return. You will be responsible for the cost of your return-to-campus testing and cannot attend in-person classes or events until you receive a negative result. 

You may see complete testing numbers, as well as contact tracing and quarantine and isolation data, on Carleton’s COVID-19 Dashboard, which is now updated Mondays with the preceding week’s data. With our first set of surveillance test results expected later this week, we will return next week to our Fall Term practice of reporting the 14-day infection rate within our community, as well as the campus action level.

As we return to in-person classes, dining, and activities today, I want to share a few important reminders:

  • Occupancy counters are now available on the Dining Services and Gould Library websites, as well as on digital signage in the dining halls. Please plan ahead for your visits to avoid being turned away from those spaces, and keep Sayles, Schulze, and Weitz cafés in mind as alternative indoor dining locations.
  • When you are in an indoor eating area and have finished your food, please promptly put your face mask back on and ensure it is covering both your mouth and your nose.
  • Please follow all posted signage and do not move the furniture in any campus building—including the library, dining areas, classrooms, and casual spaces. Spaces throughout campus have been carefully evaluated for safe seating arrangements, and it is essential that you respect the existing furniture layouts.
  • As people move more freely around campus, it is essential that you remain vigilant in thoroughly and frequently washing your hands, wearing a face mask when indoors and when within 6 feet of others outdoors, monitoring and tracking your symptoms of COVID-19 daily, limiting the number of people with which you have close contact, and maintaining a safe physical distance from others. These and other expectations are outlined in the covenant.

Again, I want to thank you for the important role you have played in keeping our campus community safe and healthy at the start of another unusual term. Happy third week.


Dean Livingston

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